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Forlan scores as Atletico net Champions League spot

Atletico Madrid secured the final Champions League spot and the millions of euros that accompany it with a 3-0 home win over Almeria on Saturday in the 1,000th game at the Vicente Calderon.

Atletico needed just a draw to clinch fourth but they cruised to a 3-0 victory to qualify for the Champions League for the second successive season.

Argentine Sergio “Kun” Aguero and Raul Garcia put Atletico 2-0 up before Diego Forlan scored for the eighth successive match to take his season’s tally to 32 and wrap up the ‘pichichi’ crown for the league’s top-scorer.

Atletico join champions Barcelona, Real Madrid and Sevilla as Spain’s Champions League representatives and coach Abel Resino, originally seen as a stop-gap, has staked his claim to continue in the job next season.

Forlan’s old club Villarreal, runners-up last season, won 3-2 at Real Mallorca but Atletico’s win meant they had to settle for fifth and a Europa league place.

Villarreal must now concentrate on trying to hang onto their highly-rated Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini, 55, who has emerged as a strong candidate for the Real Madrid job.

Valencia clinched the final European spot with a 2-0 home win over defeated Kings Cup finalists Athletic Bilbao.

David Villa scored both goals to take his season’s tally to 28 in what could be his final game for the club.

Villa and fellow Spanish international David Silva will be hot property in the summer with the big clubs set to come calling with their chequebooks and Valencia may be unable to resist having missed out on the Champions League.

Valencia’s win meant Deportivo La Coruna, who drew 1-1 with Barcelona, missed out on Europe.

Barca were given the guard of honour at the Riazor Stadium to salute their historical league, Kings Cup and Champions League treble that no Spanish side had ever achieved.

Coach Pep Guardiola started with five of the starting XI that beat Manchester United 2-0 in Wednesday’s Champions League final and Samuel Eto’o, who scored the opening goal in Rome, netted a late equaliser with his 30th goal of the season.

Eto’o has led the scoring charts for most of the season but Forlan’s hot streak has taken him two goals clear of the Cameroon striker to steal the pichich crown.

The relegation battle takes centre stage on Sunday with five teams fighting for their lives on what will be a tense final day of the season.

Osasuna, third from bottom, host dethroned champions Real Madrid and need to win to be certain of survival.

“Real are not coming here to roll over and die,” warned Osasuna coach Jose Antonio Camacho. “They have some of the best players in the world and they will come here to play.”

Four other teams are fighting the drop and two meet each other with Valladolid travelling to Real Betis.

Promoted Sporting Gijon, level on points with Osasuna, face already relegated Recreativo Huelva while Getafe, a point above the drop, have a tough trip to Racing Santander.

Sat 30 May, 2009
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